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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  December 26, 2017 4:00pm-5:00pm PST

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that's our show. "hardball" starts now. jeff flake warns the gop. let's play "hardball." and good evening. i'm steve kornacki in for chris matthews, who is on vacation. donald trump stayed out of the public eye for the most part today. he did send out a pair of tweets
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earlier in the day. he labeled the fbi as "tainted" and boasted about essentially repealing the affordable care act. we will have a lot more on both of those stories. but we begin with some stark warnings for the president and for the republican party from some fellow republicans. congressman charlie dent of pennsylvania and senator jeff flake of arizona are both retiring in 2018 and both are on record as outspoken critics of the president. but over the weekend they sounded huge alarm bells about their party's future under the leadership of president trump. >> clearly, you know, republican -- my party, the republican party, is going to experience losses. it remains to be seen whether or not we'll lose the majority. i tell my colleagues, look, we're going to be running into a headwind. you'd better be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. but let's be prepared for the worst because this could be a tough year. >> what's the risk if the party continues in that direction, the bannon direction, the trump direction? that you could lose -- could you lose the senate?
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>> most definitely. most definitely. when you look at some of the audiences cheering for republicans sometimes, you look out there and you say, those are the spasms of a dying party. when you look at the lack of diversity sometimes. it depends on where you are obviously. but by and large, we're appealing to older white men. and there are just a limited number of them. >> on sunday the president tweeted, "the fake news refuses to talk about how big our base -- how strong, excuse me, our base is. they show fake polls just like they report fake news. despite only negative reporting, we are doing well. nobody is going to beat us." so who's right? is trump's base big and strong or is the party appealing to a smaller and smaller fraction of the population? susan del persio is a republican strategist. james peterson is an msnbc contributor and host of the remix on whyy. and ken vogel is a political reporter for the "new york times." ken, let me start with you on
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this. look, historically the out of power party, the democrats in this case, they do well in midterm elections barring some very unusual circumstances. especially if the president's approval rating is low. you hear these republicans saying next year could be ugly, the president's approval rating is very low. we also saw the president sort of defy political history in 2016. do you see variables that might be at work in 2018 that could save president trump from the kind of electoral rebuke that a president in his shoes would normally be facing? >> potentially. but i think that those variables don't offset the electoral trends that you just laid out there, including particularly when you look at the generic ballot. this is where voters are asked basically which party they trust more to steer the country. and democrats have a lead anywhere between 13 and 18 points. that's huge. to put that in perspective, that's bigger than in 2006, when democrats retook both chambers
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of congress. and bigger than what republicans had headed into 2010 at this point, where they retook the house of representatives. so i think all things look very bad for republicans. that said, as you pointed out, they didn't look particularly good in 2016 and obviously there was something that wasn't being captured in the polls that redounded to president trump's benefit, now president trump's benefit and republicans' benefit. then the other thing, to go back to the broader trends that we're talking about and that charlie dent laid out and jeff flake have flagged as potentially problematic for republicans long term, this idea that they just continue to appeal to white men and particularly, you know, white sort of middle-class and working-class men and this is a shrinking slice of the pie whereas women and minorities and young people are a growing slice of the pie. you know, republicans and demographic analysts and democrats have been predicting that we would eventually reach that tipping point. it was the point of no return for republicans.
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and it didn't come in 2016. trump showed that that shrinking piece of the pie, working class, middle-class white men, was enough to win an election. it's going to be tested again in 2018. >> so susan, what do you do with that if you're a republican candidate? if you're in one of these districts, you're a republican, maybe hillary clinton won your district, maybe she was only a few points behind donald trump. you're looking at it, you're saying if this is a wave year, i'm in trouble. what do you do? do you go out there and do you denounce donald trump? how do you handle an atmosphere like this if you're an endangered republican? >> it depends. in some of these districts, some of those members may be viewed as somewhat moderate, which means they could be facing a primary. so if the current member's going to be facing a primary on the right, that is going to be particularly difficult in a swing district. because then you are going to have to? what embrace donald trump or at least some of the things he's done, which is probably the way you go. you say gorsuch, you say appointees, you say tax cut,
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deregulation. and you try and move the ball that way on your primary. but once you get to a general election, if you are in a moderate swing state, i don't know how republicans overcome that. especially when we see the turnout that happens from the local elections in big counties in new york and pennsylvania and virginia. the turnout on the democratic line increased anywhere from 16% to 46% in some districts. that's tremendous. that turnout number. >> james, i'm curious what you make of that energy, how you would define it. because we spend a lot of time in politics trying to analyze elections and saying this party, what's their message, what's their strategy, and there's a school of thought when you look to midterm elections that the out of power party, in this case the democrats, actually doesn't need a message. it's a referendum on the in-power party, the in-power president. if the president's approval rating is low, the opposition party is hey, this is how you register your protest.
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is this s. that all democrats need in a -- >> i hope the democrats would come up with a much more sophisticated and powerful messaging in this moment but it is a unique opportunity. my co-panelists are right. there are certain issues republicans could run on in this midterm election but representative dent and senator flake don't have those options because of the demographic thing ken is talking about. when you look at 159th district of pennsylvania which is qulooerl dent's district it's a very demographically developing, evolving region. it's becoming much more latino, becoming much browner, much younger. in that environment the only response for someone like dent is to retire. people in pennsylvania hope he'll take the same route toomey did which is to move from the 15th district to the senate. but barring all sorts of political things that emerge in this midterm moment there is hardcore facts around demographi demographics, around trump's approval ratings that certain republicans will not be able to overcome. >> just hearing this in the air, it is -- i get echoes of what we heard in october of 2016 -- >> but you know, the autopsy of
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republicans on the 2012 election, that autopsy they did 07b9 election wasn't necessarily wrong. it was just that donald trump blew up everything and hillary clinton was extremely unpopular. and that's the other thing for some of these swing districts. let's not forget you have donald trump there and you no longer have hillary clinton there that a lot of people -- >> but if there is an issue here that republicans think might give them a little traction next year, it's what happened last week. republicans celebrating a major victory with their tax plan passing congress. the president then signing into law. the message was simple, they said, this was all about the middle class. >> tax reform will protect low-income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well connected. they can call me all they want. it's not going to help. i'm doing the right thing. and it's not good for me. believe me. >> i consider this very much a bill for the middle class and a bill for jobs. and jobs are produced through companies and corporations. and you see that happening. corporations are literally going
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wild over this. >> that was last week. president trump has been at his country club mar-a-lago all weekend. his message to the other guests there may have been a little i have. aordering to cbs news, "president trump kicked off his holiday weekend at mar-a-lago friday night at a dinner where he told friends, you all just got a lot richer." referencing the sweeping tax overhaul. cbs cites two anonymous sources. nbc news, we should say, has not verified the report. president trump is probably right about his friends getting richer, though. according to the non-partisan tax policy center the vast majority of the benefits go to the richest americans while the middle class will make a few hundred dollars back. the top 1% will get tens of thousands of dollars under the new plan. but ken, let's talk about the politics of this plan because part of this too was for republicans just to say hey, we did something. we had the white house, we had the house, we had the senate, now we've done this big ticket thing. we know the polling on this tax plan is not good as it passes. i guess my question is we also know the economic numbers overall have been encouraging. if this economy does for whatever reason pick up steam over next year is there a
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political bank shot here for republicans where voters sort of look at the economy come october and they say, well, i don't know exactly what you did but it seems to be working. can republicans get credit that way at all? >> that's certainly what they're hoping for, steve. and that has been the messaging. and even as polls have shown that more voters believe trump's private message as reported by cbs news as well as the analysis of folks like the tax policy center that you cited, that this would benefit the rich more than it would benefit the middle or the working class. republicans nonetheless believe that eventually -- and maybe sooner rather than later that folks will start seeing some benefits in their paychecks as the withholdings are reduced and they get more money in their paychecks. ultimately, they won't actually see it on their taxes until after the midterm elections. that is, until april of 2019 on their 2018 taxes. nonetheless, that's what republicans are hoping that they'll be able to sell as the
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message of their one big accomplishment thus far legislatively. i think it's going to be a lot tougher to get any more legislative points on the board in 2018. we already sort of see the parameters of what this election is going to look like, and democrats are gearing up to run hard against this tax bill. >> you know the other thing that strikes me, susan, when we think back of history. we think of the recent presidents who've had brutal mid-terms for their parties, barack obama the dems lost 63 seats in 2010. bill clinton in '94. reagan in '82 had a really bad midterm too. they bounced back and they won re-election because politically it was easier for them not to be aligned with their party's congressional leadership, to have? friction, to have some opposition there. think of trump in 2016, it seemed like a big part of his appeal was that he wasn't aligned with ryan and mcconnell and the republican establishment. is there an angle here for the white house where you take a hit in '18 and it helps you in '19 and '20 politically? >> no, i think this white house is only what works for president trump at any given time -- >> but does that work for president trump is what i'm
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asking. >> well, it won't -- >> to be able to rail against the democrats every day instead of having to try to -- we've seen this awkward they try to pass something with ryan and mcconnell, then he's bashing ryan and mcconnell, then we're asking why he's doing that. is it cleaner if he just gets to attack pelosi and schumer every day? >> no, because if he has pelosi, if it is pelosi as potential leader, he's going to be facing -- he thinks it's bad now, the investigations into him. he can't -- what donald trump needs to learn and the team there, which i believe they know, is that they have to bend over backwards and do everything humanly possible to do not just what's good for donald trump but more importantly whatever they can do to keep the republicans in the house in the majority. that is more towards his best interests than anything else at this point. otherwise, we are going to see impeachment hearings. it's going to get really ugly. >> that's the question. are democrats -- is impeachment part of the message for 2018 for democrats? >> it absolutely should be. and i'm a little bit more
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cynical here about the tax cuts. my sense is that the only way you get republicans mcconnell and ryan to come together with president trump is for the donor class. it's a way of sustaining the gop. a lot of this is about what the future of the gop can be. the demographic shifts suggest that the future of the gop is not good in terms of where they are politically, but in terms of the financing and the way the political sxwierng political campaigns work, speaking and reaching out to the donor class is political strategy. gethd the donor class to support what they're doing. >> you say you want impeachment to be part of the message. do you get the sense the democratic leadership is comfortable with that or do you think -- is there a fear there -- >> when i say speaker pelosi or former speaker pelosi, she doesn't seem very comfortable with that now. but when you talk to the base of the democratic party, you talk to the folks out there in the streets, the folks that are claiming hashtag resistance, impeachment needs to be part of the messaging if -- >> i think that's a key question for this year. >> it's going to be tough in those swing districts, though, we were talking about. impeachment in campaigning may be a bridge too far whereas the
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president should be more concerned about it and shouldn't necessarily tweet or talk about it. >> all right. thank you to susan del persio, james peterson and ken vogel. coming up, president trump is stepping up his attacks on the fbi, claiming the bureau is, quote, tainted and that the russia probe is politically motivated. it all comes amidst a growing outcry amid some conservatives to oust the special counsel bob mueller. plus former intelligence experts say russia is still aggressively using social media to spread propaganda. russian operatives have used accounts to discredit the fbi and attack republican politicians who have been critical of the president. and president trump reportedly fumed about immigrants coming into this country following his travel ban, allegedly telling aides that haitians, quote, all have aids. and finally, the "hardball" round table is here to tell me something i don't know. this is "hardball." where the action is. hurry, it's the final days of the ford year end sales event. ♪ i'm on top of the world, hey. ♪ it's your last chance of the year to get our best offer of the year: zero percent financing for seventy-two months,
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and welcome back to "hardball." president trump spent part of his christmas holiday attacking the fbi and one of its top officials. this morning president trump was back at it again, claiming the agency used a, quote, "pile of garbage dossier" to target his campaign. trump tweeted, "dossier is bogus. clinton campaign, dnc funded dossier. fbi cannot after all this time
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verify claims in dossier of russia-trump collusion. fbi tainted." the president added, "they used this crooked hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the trump campaign." the president also targeted fbi deputy director andrew mccabe tweeted "how can fbi deputy director andrew mccabe the man in charge along with leakin' james comey of the phony hillary investigation be given $700,000 for wife's campaign by clinton puppets during investigation." he added "fbi deputy director andrew mccabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go." over the weekend the "washington post" reported that mccabe was planning to leave his post around march, when he was eligible for retirement. now the attacks seem to be part of a broader strategy by some on the right to undermine the fbi and the special counsel robert mueller. let's watch. >> he's a problem. >> real quick, do you have faith in mueller? >> no. i have no faith in mueller.
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i haven't from day one. >> i think the director has to get control of his investigation. i think also the president is taking it upon himself, i think successfully, pointing out the very obvious bias that some members of the investigation and former members of the investigation have. the problem we have is that the fbi appears to be inherently political, inherently biased. >> i'm very concerned that the d.o.j. and the fbi, whether you want to call it it deep state or what, are kind of off the rails. i would like to see the directors of those agencies purge it and say we've got a lot of great agents, a lot of great lawyers here, those are the people i want the american people to see. >> for more now i'm joined by dana milbank opinion writer with the "washington post" and sabrina siddiqui, with "guardian." thank you for being with us. let's talk about watt strategy is. it seems like almost a chorus we're hearing, we see it there in those clips, the president amplifying it himself now. do you get a sense here is the end game to sort of be able to
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muddy the waters when there finally is some sort of a word from the mueller investigation or is the end game here to step in and play some sort of pre-emptive role in that investigation, whether it's firing mueller or taking some other kind of action? >> well, you can achieve both of those things, steve. i mean, there is a chance that mueller will take some of this criticism to heart and will reshuffle his team. there was some of that that happened back during the starr investigation, when there were some complaints that. he brought in a top democrat there. but i think it achieves two purposes at the same time, and that is to say originally they were saying well, the president will be exonerated, mueller won't come up with anything. clearly he's coming up with things. he's got the multiple indictments and guilty pleas and based on where we see things going it's getting closer and closer to the president. so the idea now is exactly to inoculate the president so that whatever mueller says they will
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be able to say, well, it's a discredited investigation. the problem is the extraordinary collateral damage of telling americans that the fbi is corrupt and tainted and not to believe in our system of law. >> sabrina, something that's interesting to me about this is you see it in the president's tweets there and some of the criticisms that he's amplifying there. it's this idea, it's the suggestion that the counterintelligence investigation of the trump campaign, at the root of it was this fisa war and the question of this dossier, did this dossier play some role in fwetifwet i getting that -- as i understand it the president has the ability to order the fisa application declassified. so it seems to the extent there's some confusion there about the role that this dossier played he could clear that up potentially. he seems not interested in taking that step. >> well, he doesn't seem interested in taking that step because he is trying to suggest that the dossier has been entirely unsubstantiated and is, quote unquote, fake news when
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the fact of the matter is that there's been a lot of forecast, on some of the more salacious claims in the dossier that haven't been verified but a lot of the dossier has been corroborated by the intelligence community. it was in the dossier that we learned that carter page had met with the russians in the months leading up to the u.s. election. that's something carter page has confessed to himself. the dossier also alleged that paul manafort had contacts with russian officials and was trying to seek damaging information about hillary clinton. that is something that has also been corroborated by extensive reporting and also of course we know paul manafort is one of the people robert mueller has indicted. and then there's just broader tactics employed by the russians to try to sow discord in the democratic process in the u.s. and undermine hillary clinton. a lot of the dossier has been substantiated. i would suspect that's why trump is not actually interested in declassifying anything because he himself has refused to accept the intelligence community's assessment that russia did in fact meddle in the u.s. election. >> dana, you mentioned the idea here muddying the waters as opposed to just sort of letting
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the investigation go there. how do you draw that line? it does seem inexact to me, whether it's this president -- i can think back to bill clinton in the 1990s when ken starr was going after him. when you've got an investigator, a prosecutor, special counsel, independent counsel, whatever you want to call, it looking at a president there, what are the boundaries for a president to try to say this is over the line, this is fair game? because you had the clintons went after ken starr you remember in the '90s and the president here. what can and can't he say, do you think? >> well, steve, whenever we're discussing president trump and boundaries, the answer is no, they don't seem to exist and it changes by the moment. so there's no telling what he would do in terms of muddying the waters, and i think anybody who says he's definitely not going to fire mueller doesn't actually know that and probably trump doesn't know that either. i remember covering the lewinsky scandal, the starr investigation. the white house was certainly very happy to play politics with the congressional investigation. they were much more careful because they knew ken starr was
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a conservative who did not particularly care for the president, hired a lot of lawyers of similar mind. but they also knew that he represented the justice department in this and they had to take it seriously. and trump at the moment is trying to have it both wise, disparaging, also cooperating, counting on the house republicans, many of which you showed there, to do the dirty work for him. so far it hasn't bled into the larger senate republicans and others. that'll become very worrying if it becomes an across-the-board focus on mueller, who after all is a republican appointed by rosenstein, a republican looking into what comey, a republican, had done. >> and sabrina, too, just talking about the dossier, it's the most confusing part in all of this to me because it's so expansive in terms of what was in there. there's a lot of specificity. there's this idea that some has been confirmed -- i think there's a range of possibilities that seems to exist out there
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that nobody seems in the public domain at least, seems to have a great grasp of right now. it raises a possibility to me, i guess at least, you play this out a little bit, there's always this assumption that one way or the other mueller's going to wrap this up, we're going to know everything definitively this way or that way. and i wonder if there's also the possibility when all of this shakes outs, there's a lot of sort of in the middle there that's very much open to interpretation. >> that's all the more reason why the investigation needs to be ongoing and should not be forced to be concluded by republicans who increasingly in congress are saying that it's time for mueller to wrap up, which seems to be now shifting tone and echoing some of trump's attacks on the independence of the investigation. almost laying the groundwork to support the president if he does in fact choose to fire robert mueller. but i think one thing that's important to remember is it's a totality of events. we've seen a pattern in which trump associates or officials who worked on the campaign communicated with the russians. they were offered incriminating
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information about hillary clinton. that we know donald trump jr. was directly offered. we saw e-mails to prove it. the question here is intent. and that's what's going to be a lot more difficult for robert mueller to prove, was the trump campaign intentionally trying to collude with the russians or act i havely colluding with the russians to sway this election? and that's something that i think he's putting together very meticulously. but what we do have is a pattern of events and you cannot undermine the significance of those. and they certainly prove there was an intention to at least accept help from the russians. >> all right. sabrina siddiqui and dana milbank. thanks to both of you for joining us. up and next former intelligence officials say the russia disinformation campaign is still going strong, long after the 2016 election. kremlin trolls have even targeted politicians who are critical of president trump. this is "hardball," where the action is. this is not a cloud. this is a car protected from storms by an insurance company that knows the weather down to the square block. this is a diamond tracked on a blockchain - protected against fraud, theft and trafficking.
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i'm milissa rehberger. here's what's happening. the united states issued sanctions against two north korean missile developers. any assets the former senior air force commander and veteran rocket scientists hold in the u.s. can be seized and banks are prohibited from transactions with them involving u.s. dollars. holiday retail sales rose 4.9% compared to last year. that is the biggest jump since 2011, according to mastercard spending polls, which tracks both online and in-store spending. back to "hardball." and welcome back to
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"hardball." a stunning new report offers insight into the russian effort to upend the 2016 election and our government's flat-footed response to it. the "washington post" reports that prior to the election top u.s. officials underestimated the threat posed by kremlin trolls online, noting the intelligence and law enforcement agencies "saw some warning signs of russian meddling in europe and later in the united states but never fully grasped the breadth of the kremlin's ambitions." the report adds that "top u.s. policy makers didn't appreciate the dangers, then scrambled to draw up options to fight back." now, "one year after those instructions were given, the trump white house remains divided over whether to act." meanwhile, two former intelligence officials, michael morel, president obama's acting cia director, and mike rogers, former republican chair of the house intelligence committee, both warned that the russian disinformation campaign rages on. in an op-ed in today's "washington post" they write that "russia continues to aggressively employ the most
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significant aspects of its 2016 tool kit, the use of social immedia media as a platform to help disseminate propaganda designed to weaken our nation. ellen, let me start with you. we with hear this so many times in stories like this. the warning signs were there, they were interpreted the wrong way, they were missed. take us back, though, when did we get the first warning signs that this was happening, that this might happen? what did those warning signs look like and how could they be missed? >> well, one of the first significant glimpses we got of what russia might do to the united states was during the 2014 conflict in ukraine when the russian military intelligence agency, the g.r.u., launched an all-out propaganda blitz in the ukraine in the leadup to its annexation of crimea. they created fake personas, put
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them up on facebook and russian social media websites, to try to influence the opinion of ukrainians there, to drum up support for the pro-russian separatists against the pro-western sympathizers who wanted to be closer to europe. that was really sort of the first glimpse. and american officials, u.s. officials, saw that. some of them were concerned. and they started a debate over whether or not to take some actions. >> but we saw that the story here, at that time flag was sort of a wave there by some people but not much was done. why not? was it just it's too far-fetched? what was the thinking that led to the flat-footed response? >> so what we learned was there actually was an effort in 2014 and 2015 to -- there was debate over whether or not to create a presidential finding against russia, which would have been
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the first such finding to conduct covert action, influence, operations, cyber actions and others against russia. something like that hadn't been done since the cold war ended. but during that period of time the options that were being considered, which included doing fake personas, fake websites, perhaps even zapping websites and servers, some of that was considered either not to be -- to be effective or to result in retaliation, and some officials even thought that the u.s. spies shouldn't be involved in such counterprop gand efforts. in the end after two years of debate and drawing up of options it went nowhere. the package never hit the president's desk. and so that whole effort was
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tabled. >> and fat sha >> and natasha, to fast-forward to the present day, you've got morel saying this is still going on, russia's still using this playbook, we've got an election coming up in 2018, it's a midterm election year, 2020 right on the heels of that, if russia was up to what it was doing in 2016 this coming year or in 2020, will those efforts land differently now or is it set up for a repeat? >> not necessarily. they won't land differently. that's what intelligence officials are really raising the alarm about right now, is the election system and voter system hacking, the potential they will be hacked and the potential that russia will not only continue its propaganda efforts on social media through this year but actually intensify them leading up to the 2018 elections as we saw last year. and what we're seeing now is that the russians are still using these stroll accounts that are operated outside of russia to sow discord in the united states, to defend right-wing allies from donald trump.
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attacking any members of congress critical of donald trump. defending media personalities like sean hannity. they are attacking the fbi. there's been a whole lot of controversy over the fbi over the last few weeks, and they have essentially aligned themselves with gop members of congress who are calling for a purge to take place within the fbi and saying there's a kind of coup going on against the president. these are all efforts by russia really to disrupt. that's really what their goal is all about. they want to disrupt. they want to sow chaos in order to distract attention away from what's happening domestically in russia and focus the world and the united states' attention on our own domestic problems. >> all right. natasha bertrand and ellen nakashima, very interesting report there today. thank you to both of you. appreciate that. and up next, the white house is pushing back on an explosive report in the "new york times." the president reportedly fumed about immigrants entering this country, complaining that nigerians will never "go back to their huts" after coming to the u.s. you're watching "hardball."
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look, it's very simple. what we are demanding is merit-based immigration. we want people that are going to help our country. we want people that are going to keep our country safe. we don't want lotteries where the wrong people are in the lotteries. and guess what, who are the suckers that get those people? >> and welcome back to "hardball." president trump has never been shy to share his opinions on immigration. but a new report details particularly offensive comments allegedly made by the president. according to a "new york times" account of a june oval office meeting, the president "vented that so many foreigners had flooded into the country since january that it was making a mockery of his pledge to secure the borders. more than 25,000 were from afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained. haiti had sent 15,000 people. they all have aids, he grumbled.
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40,000 had come from nigeria, added. once they had seen the united states they would never go back to their huts in africa." the white house strongly denies the president made those comments saying it's sad and telling "the new york times" would print the lies of their anonymous sources." let's bring in tonight's "hardball" round table. carrie sheffield founder of bold immediate ja conservative commentator. mark thompson host of make it plain on sirius xm progress. matt welch is the editor at large of "reason" magazine. maybe we could stipulate that you can make what you want of this particular "new york times" story. they cite this to their sources. they've printed that. the white house denies it. but we know the tone, carrie, that the president uses to address these issues, the sort of -- the bluntness of those comments. negativity and even hostility of those comments is not really at odds with things he said publicly. i think back to his speech announcing his candidacy when he talked about mexicans coming across the border. only in passing after saying rapists and murderers. he said i suppose some of them are good people.
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this is the tone. how does that affect when the president of the united states is talking that way, how does that affect the united states standing in this world? >> sure. so again, as you noted, the most inflammatory comments have been disputed by other people who were in the meeting as well. so that is important to note in addition to the official comments from the white house. but i think in terms of tone overall 2016 was a wake-up call to the political establishment chamber of commerce conservatives republicans who were taking this unfettered approach to immigration. we need to be more like canada and i think that's what senator tom cotton is doing as well, to say it should be merit-based -- >> but i'm asking about the tone here. >> sure. >> the first clip we played there coming in is november 1st. he's president of the united states. again, we can take "the new york times" one aside here. the overall tone when he talks about immigration is not hey, let's consider this proposal from cotton. he's talking in some very, very blunt terms in a way presidents haven't before. >> well, i think, again, it's a wake-up call because that -- a lot of conservatives felt like republicans had been asleep at the wheel. so when someone is asleep at the
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wheel, what do you do? you need to jolt them to be awake. to the canada issue, 50% of cantian immigrants have a bachelor's degree. it's only about a quarter here in the united states. so when trump is saying in that clip you played at the beginning we need to make this merit-based, we need to make this based on substance, not based on a lottery, not based on the fact that maybe your parents muscled their way in. that's not a rational reason-based metric-based accountability -- >> let me ask mark what you think. you're make the argument here essentially this is shock therapy, this is what somebody needs to -- you have the bully pulpit, you're engaging in shock therapy, that's how the president focuses people on an issue that nobody else will focus on. what do you make of that argument? >> i think it's a little beyond shock therapy. this is language he's always used. we've always known him for what he is. i believe he said those things. i have no doubt about it, even if the white house denies it. because that's the way he talks. we also know that by the company he keeps. he's constantly playing to his white nationalist, nazi base. and to say that haitians all have aids, to say that nigerians won't want to go back to huts as if people still live in huts,
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add that to what he always says about muslims with his islamophobic comments, as you said, and what he said about mexicans, these are all racist statements made -- >> when you say the white nationalist nazi base, how big of his base do you think that is? >> well, membership maybe not so big. but ideologically and from a philosophical point of view i think it's pretty broad. you don't have those who vote for him and those who voted for roy moore renouncing white nationalism and nazism even if they aren't a member of a neo-nazi group or stormfront or something like that. so in terms of the hard numbers of membership i don't know that we'll ever know, to be quite frank. but there are a lot of people who agree with that and watch fox news every day and buy into that rhetoric. and i just think you're going to lose in 2018 if that's the playbook, to say that if you support strong immigration controls that you support these things. that's incredibly offensive. i have a lot of family and friends who support trump who
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reject all of what you're saying. >> and they say haitians have aids? do your family say that? >> let me ask you -- let me -- let me try to reset and ask you this question. you're saying trump supporters, folks you know, friends, family members, that kind of comment does a disservice to them. that's what you're saying. does the president, though, when he speaks the way in public that he speaks about this issue of immigration, does he make it easy for critics to say those things about your family and friends? >> sure. well, look, i was not a fan of trump in 2016. there's no secret about that in terms of i found some of his comments to be crossing the line. but again, i think this is -- they say in negotiation terms the zopa, the zone of possible agreement has been moved. it's one of those things on the airplane when you're face tragedy, you've got to put your own mask on before you can save others. that's what for a lot of the trump voters, that's what this is about. our country -- you know, the mortality rate is declining in this country -- or in terms of like the life span. for the first time in a long
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time our life spans are going down. the opium crisis is horrific right now. there are so many problems right now. this was the sense of a lot of trump voters is we need to -- >> what do you think -- this was one of the issues in 2016, 17 candidates on those stages, right? this was the issue that separated him from all the others. >> absolutely. >> immigration. was it the emotion of it? was it's stuff mark's talking about that was resonating or was it the policy, the stuff carrie's talking about? >> just to throw out quickly, i don't think america needs a gas mask at this point. that immigrants are the gas. i think there's problems with that metaphor. part of it is that trump said that he would actually do what republicans always promise and then forget about once they become elected. they were playing phony populism this whole time. now he's going to say i'm going to dot real populism, i'm going to open the embassy in jerusalem, i'm going to actually say merry christmas and keep talking about it after election day and all this kind of stuff. immigration was the most symbolic one part of that. but this is a big departure not just rhetorically -- and rhetorically it is a huge departure and an ugly one and an un-american one from my point of view. but it's a departure on policy.
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we are at this point accepting almost the smallest number of refugees in this country than we have in the last 40 years at a time when the worldwide refugee population has nearly doubled in the last five years. it's a staggering number of refugees. we have completely absconded with leadership on this issue and we're trying to cut under tom cotton and other beknighted individuals out there, we're trying to cut the number of legal immigrants into this country. if you look at immigration as fundamentally a criminality problem, then this kind of makes sense. but if you think, hmm, if we have more -- we have millions of people living outside of the law, maybe there's something prohibitionist about this problem, which is how george h.w. bush and ronald reagan viewed this problem, then making that number smaller is going to create more illegal people. that is a problem. >> the panel will stick around. we've got to squeeze a quick break in here. we will not stop the conversation. the round table is staying with us. also, trump says the phrase "merry christmas" was under assault until he took office. the tape says something else, though. you're watching "hardball." ♪
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still ahead, president trump says he's proud to have led the charge against the war on christmas. we'll tackle that next with the "hardball" roundtable. this is "hardball," where the action is.
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and welcome back to "hardball." this weekend, president trump tweeted out this. he said, quote, people are proud to be saying merry christmas again. i am proud to have led the
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charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. merry christmas! the implication there, of course, this is some new phenomenon. you can see here president obama wished the nation, at least i think we have this, merry christmas. here's a tweet from barack obama and this is not an aberration. he did this many times as a president, caused a lot of conversation about what president trump is trying to achieve. i'm curious, milwaukeark, what make of this? is this trump trying to claim an empty compliment or is it deeper than this? >> he's making things up with the help of fox news. they pushed forward this propaganda for several years of there being a war on christmas. there was a video released yesterday of president obama saying merry christmas at least seven times. the new war on christmas is the tax bill they just passed. it's going to be devastating to the working class and the poor. they should have called it the scrooge bill.
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he's made this up to feed whatever base he has out there. >> what's he feeding here? what's the response to, president obama said this dozens of times as president. there was no war on christmas. >> absolutely, president obama spor supported christmas and said "merry christmas" many times. i think it's a deeper issue. even michael we'ir, president obama's faith director, it was a gentle critique but he did critique president obama on his approach to people of faith, on issues around contraception and gay marriage and issues where religious people in good faith felt like they had been shut out of the obama administration in a way that was sort of demoralizing over the course of his presidency. >> i gather what you're trying to say. it's a bit symbolic. let's get the libertarian reason magazine perspective. what do you think of the war on christmas? >> the president derives not a small amount of his political power by trolling people with pointless culture war feuds that don't really amount to anything that he can't control. he doesn't have any impact on what i say to a shopkeeper, what
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a shopkeeper says to me. the fact that we're talking about this for a week says that his troll game is still better than the response game at this point. he wants you and everybody spluttering with rage about it, then he wins. >> all right. the roundtable is staying with us. up next, three scoops you'll be talking about tomorrow. you're watching "hardball." i wanted to know who i am and where i came from. i did my ancestrydna and i couldn't wait to get my pie chart. the most shocking result was that i'm 26% native american. i had no idea. just to know this is what i'm made of,
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all right. we're back with the "hardball" roundtable. matt, tell me something i don't know. >> baseball hall of fame is
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voting right now. they'll announce next month. it's kind of interesting from a voting perspective. this stuff is being public, the votes are being tallied publicly at the time it's changing the behavior of the voters, i think, when they can see how it's going to affect. if we know how our votes are going to be tallied, how it's going to be impact the election, we might change -- >> it's like california voting when all the east coast is in on election night. carrie? >> so the mainstream media, but i'm glad we're talking about here, black and latino unemployment is at record lows. it's the lowest it's been, at least through 2000. dating back to w. bush as well as obama administrations, things are going well. the black white unemployment gap, the differential is the lowest it's been since 2000. the economy is turning up its broader employment. >> mark? >> as a result of trump's comments, even the most recent ones about haitians and nigerians, there's going to be a greater interest this season with regards to kwanzaa. more people are going to be interested in it, celebrating kwanzaa, as a reaction to this president. so i think we'll be hearing more about that. >> okay. that'll do it for tonight. carrie sheffield, mark thompson,
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thank you to all of you joining us. i i'm filling in for chris matthews. he's on a well-deserved vacation at the end of this year. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. the president of the united states proclaimed he was getting back to work today, then he did, attacking the fbi and robert mueller's probe as one of his congressional allies came on this network and called for a, quote, purge of the fbi and the department of justice. the latest on the president's undermining of the mueller investigation in just a moment. also tonight, in the wake of the trump tax cuts, david cay johnston on the president's alleged declaration to his golf club patrons that you all just got a lot richer. plus, the latest grim details from the american disaster in puerto rico, where much of the island spent the holiday without power. and "the new yorker's" mosha guessen is here to share her thoughts

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